Services & Support
Most of the following material was provided
Arthritis Foundation (Greater Southwest Chapter)
which supports Arizona,
New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas
The American Juvenile Arthritis
Organization (AJAO) is a national
than 300,000 children & 7.3 million young adults are challenged with arthritis,
rheumatic diseases and related conditions. The disease can start as early as infancy
and can last a lifetime.
childhood rheumatic diseases including juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus
erythematosus, and dermatomyositis (2.2 per 1,000 children) is nearly double the
prevalence of cerebral
palsy (1.2 per 1,000) and juvenile diabetes (1 per 1,000).
Medically, the onset
of juvenile arthritis is different from the adult form, and in some cases it is far more
severe. The children and families affected by the disease often feel isolated and
helpless in an environment that only sees arthritis as a condition of the elderly.
almost any of the 100 forms of arthritis that are more common in adults, but when the
disease occurs before the age of 16, it is classified as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
The most common form
is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), which affects an estimated 71,000 American
children and nearly 4,000 children in Arizona!
at least 4 children with JRA in the
Sierra Verde Elementary School during the years 2002-2005!!!
does not always progress into adulthood, although some forms cause damage to the joints
and other organs - primarily the eyes - which may be permanent.
In addition to the
chronic pain and other medical effects on children with arthritis, there can be
substantial emotional and financial drain on the entire family as a result for caring for
a chronically ill child.
Juvenile Arthritis Organization is a special council of the National Arthritis Foundation
and is devoted to the concerns of children with arthritis and their families.
Signs & Symptoms
The definition of
arthritis is "inflammation of a joint". Inflammation causes swelling,
redness, pain and loss of motion. Juvenile arthritis refers to arthritis or an
arthritis-related condition that occurs before the age of 15 or 16.
The disease can affect
one or more joints and/or the child's internal organs. Major symptoms include joint
pain, joint stiffness following sleep or inactivity that usually presents the next
morning, swelling in the joints, favoring a limb, weakness in muscles or other soft
When few joints (4
or less) are affected it is called Pauciarticular arthritis. This form has
the highest risk for developing chronic eye inflammation, uveitis.
When many joints (5
or more) are affected it is called Polyarticular arthritis. Possible symptoms
may include low-grade fever, a positive blood test for rheumatoid factor (RF), rheumatoid
nodules (bumps under the skin), and anemia.
The least common and
most difficult form affects the entire body and is called Systemic arthritis.
This form usually has symptoms of high spiking fevers (103 degrees or higher) that
may last for weeks or even months. A rash of pale red spots that appear on the
child's chest, thighs, and sometimes other parts of the body, often accompanies the fever
and may come and go for many days in a row. Joint inflammation usually accompanies
the fever but may begin weeks or months later. Other possible symptoms may include
inflammation of the heart or lungs, anemia, and enlarged lymph nodes, liver or spleen.
child displays signs of juvenile arthritis a pediatrician
or rheumatologist should see him/her
immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment are important in preventing significant
Just a few of the medications used to treat JRA: (check with your doctor
for other possible medications)
Anti -Inflammatory Agents NSAIDS (ibuprofen/motrin,
naprosyn, etc.) NOTE:
Vioxx has recently been removed from the list as mandated by the FDA
TNF Inhibitor (enbrel)
Some of these medications may cause gastrointestinal sensitivity, sensitivity to
sunlight, increased risk of infection due to decreased immunity,
bleeding/bruising, anemia, visual changes. Be
sure to check with your physician for further details.
Common adjunctive therapy with steroids, NSAIDS, & methotrexate may include :
Vitamin (forms of folic
acid such as leucovorin)
You may also
need to consider:
Frequent eye examinations
Routine blood work
(certain antibiotics such as penicillins, in combination with methotrexate,
may alter absorption and/or excretion)
sure to ask your physician for further details...
Inquire about a
at your school to assist with any
physical limitations...(extra set of text books, PE modifications, assistive
writing equipment etc.)